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Richard Webb celebrates 20 years working for Paladon Systems

We interview Workshop Team Leader, Richard Webb as he celebrates his recent milestone of 20 years’ service at Paladon Systems.

How and why did you start working for Paladon Systems?
To be honest, it was mainly down to my mum. After just completing my A-Levels, my parents were on the lookout for any opportunities that would get me out of the house to earn a living and, at that time, Paladon Systems were advertising for a workshop apprentice. My mum spotted the job posting and hinted that I should apply; fortunately for everyone involved my application was successful!

Tell us about your career at Paladon Systems
For the first 3 years I worked on the shop floor as an apprentice learning the basics of valve actuators and control systems. After 3 years I took the opportunity to become a Service Technician and spent most of the next 8 years travelling the world, installing, commissioning and servicing valve automation systems, both onshore and offshore. For the last 9 years I’ve held the role of Workshop Team Leader and am primarily responsible for the day-to-day management and scheduling of all workshop activities, as well as providing leadership and training to the Workshop Technicians.

Do you have any interesting stories from when you were a Service Technician?
When you’ve travelled to so many places off the beaten track, you can’t help but find yourself in many ‘interesting’ situations. I remember once being in the middle of nowhere in Kazakhstan working on a control panel when I felt what I thought was a fly constantly landing on the back of my head. After trying to brush the fly away numerous times without success, I turned round only to have a camel right in my face. That was quite the shock!

There was a time when I was supposed to be working for just 3 days on a FPSO located of the coast of Tunisia, but due to rough sea surface conditions I had to wait for 15 days before I could even start work. On completion of the work I was then trapped on the FPSO for another 3 days due to fog.

I also remember being conned by a colleague (who shall remain nameless) who gave me the option to travel to a platform located in the Erskin field either by helicopter or dive boat. After being told by my colleague that dive boats were quite ‘luxurious’, I went and took the dive boat whilst he took the helicopter. From experience I can tell you that a typical dive boat is as far away from luxurious as you can imagine. Still, it could have been worse; whilst on the dive boat I saw a new diver apprentice being told by his colleagues to fill up the boat’s moon pool using a fire hose!

What have you enjoyed most about working for Paladon Systems?
My current role is the one that I have enjoyed most. I value its variety and the fact that I have the freedom to organise and manage each project as I see fit to maintain Paladon Systems’ high standards. I also get a lot of satisfaction from training and mentoring my colleagues and seeing them develop from apprentices to experts.

How have you seen the industry change over the last 20 years?
There is a lot more competition these days for basic pneumatic and hydraulic valve automation systems; especially from the large multinationals. Fortunately Paladon Systems realised many years ago that they would have to focus on the development of advanced automation technology such as electro-hydraulic positioning and turbine bypass systems, and today we continue to be very successful in applications in which bespoke and highly engineered solutions are required.

Thank you for your time Richard and for all your dedication over the last 20 years.

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